This One-Armed Guitar Player Reminded Me That People Are Awesome.

I saw something last week that I have never seen before, and will probably never see again.

I was in Park City, Utah, for the holidays. Mom had heard on the radio that Robert Randolph & The Family Band would be playing a free show at the base of Park City. We got off the slopes early and headed to the show.

I’ve seen Robert Randolph play a half-dozen times now, and he does a fun thing during some of his shows. During an extended jam, he’ll pick up a guitar and extend it toward the crowd. He’ll give the crowd a look: Anyone out there play?

A few years ago, in Kansas City, I saw a kid — no more than 15, I think — come up and cover “Purple Haze” with the band. If you’ve never seen a teenager jam with a guy on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarist lists, you really should.

Anyway, Robert picked up a guitar midway through the Park City set. A college-aged kid with a big fro came up first, played a few licks. Robert shook his head and sent him back into the crowd.

A second guy — maybe in his early 30s, still wearing his ski clothes — came up, and Robert let him play for two or three seconds before sending him back, too.

Then a third guy came up. Robert’s guitar tech came over with the guitar, and the guitarist whispered something in his ear. The tech brought over a chair, and the guitarist sat down.

Then he took off his right arm.

his-arm copy

And then with the stump of his right arm, he began to play.

And Robert smiled. Because right away, you could tell: The dude with one arm could really play.

Robert jammed with him on a song. And then another. And then another.

When Robert finally said it was time to go, the crowd went insane. A one-armed guitarist holding his own with a dude considered one of the greatest guitarists ever — even a week later, I keep asking myself, Did I really see that?

I walked up afterward to congratulate the guitarist. His name’s Jeremiah Maxey, and he plays in a few Park City bands, including one called — and I couldn’t believe it when he told me — the Right Hand Band.

So here’s to you, Jeremiah. I’ll see a lot of shows in my life, but I don’t think I’ll ever see something quite like the three songs you played with Robert Randolph. Thanks for having the guts to walk up on stage — and for the reminder that people can be pretty amazing, sometimes.